2023 Induction and Awards Program
The SAHOF Class of 2023
Kim Brennan was seemingly always destined to scale whatever summit she tackled, but as one of Australia’s most decorated, driven and determined rowers, she found her calling. She won the full complement of Olympic medals – silver and bronze medals in London in 2012 in the women’s double sculls and in the women’s single sculls, before turning on a virtuoso performance to win gold in the women’s single sculls in Rio in 2016. Brennan was a two-time world champion who was inspirational on and off the water, with her contribution to rowing and Olympic movement extending well beyond her competitive career.
Lydia Lassila was one of Australia’s most decorated and inspirational Winter Olympic athletes, winning a gold medal and a bronze medal in a stunningly successful career. She made her Winter Games debut in 2002, suffered a near career-ending crash on a jump in Torino in 2006, rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament. Lassila returned in 2010 and delivered a spectacular jump that won her the Olympic gold medal, becoming the second Australian to win aerials gold after Alisa Camplin in 2002. She, won a bronze in 2014 before bowing out in 2018 after an uplifting career that inspired the dream in a new generation of competitors.
Cahill was one of Australian soccer’s most influential players in a career that spanned two decades as he helped to guide the Socceroos to one of their most successful eras. An attacking midfielder and striker whose trademark shadow boxing goal celebrations around the corner flag was a spectacular part of his on-field arsenal, Cahill thrived on playing for his country. His exceptional strike-rate saw him score a record 50 goals from his 108 international caps. But Cahill perfectly balanced his international representation with an outstanding and prolific club career that saw him play the sport in different leagues across four continents.
McLaren’s commitment to rowing across more than 40 years – both as a competitor and as a coach and educator – stamped him as one of the sport’s most influential contributors. His impact on and off the water was significant, both in Australia and internationally. As coach of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Rowing Club, he mentored a wave of Australian representatives and Olympians, including the double sculls gold-medal winning team at the 1992 Barcelona Games. McLaren’s influence wasn’t solely confined to Australia. His impact included taking his wealth of knowledge and experience to various parts of the world.
Thurston was one of Australian rugby league’s greatest players in a glittering career which saw him dominate at state, national and international levels. He was an inspirational player who consistently elevated his team and inspired the fans, as well as being a role model for the Indigenous community. He played in two NRL premierships – the first in Canterbury’s 2004 win over the Roosters; the second as the hero of North Queensland’s maiden success in the 2015 grand final. In that time, he won four Dally M. Thurston was a Queensland State-of-Origin legend, playing 37 matches between 2005-17, including a record 36 in a row
A three-time Paralympic gold medallist, four time World Champion and dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Kurt Fearnley was one of the most resilient and respected athletes Australia has produced. In a stellar career spanning more than two decades, Fearnley won more than 40 marathons as a wheelchair athlete, including the major events. Just as significantly, his numerous achievements on and off the track were an inspiration to people of all abilities and he provided a voice to many Australians who had often gone unheard. Fearnley won the Don Award after his emotiaonal gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Nova Peris was a trailblazer in representative sport and an inspiration for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community – and all Australians – as she reached for the stars in a remarkable career. She was the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal as part of the Hockeyroos’ successful 1996 campaign in Atlanta. She then boldly looked to take on another sport 12 months later when she embarked on an athletic career in an attempt to qualify for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She represented her country at two Olympic Games, four World Championships, three Champion’s Trophies and a Commonwealth Games.
2023 Legends of Australian Sport
Robert John “Bob” Skilton earned widespread respect across the VFL for his talent, leadership and sportsmanship during a stellar career representing South Melbourne.
A highly skilled rover who excelled from the midfield through to the forward line, Skilton was an exemplary kicker with superb evasive skills, which made him a favourite of fans.
The diminutive Skilton, who stood 171cm, was highly courageous despite his stature and earned significant respect for his attack on the ball.
His excellence and sportsmanship is highlighted by the Brownlow Medals he claimed in 1959, 1963 and 1968 as the VFL competition’s best-and-fairest player.
Skilton, who grew up in Port Melbourne, is among a select group of players to win the Brownlow Medal three times and rates among the best footballers to play the game.
Beachley was one of surfing’s most successful and fierce competitors in a career spanning two decades, with her impact on and off the water forever shaping her sport.
Her dominance saw her win seven world championships, including a record six in a row, as she towered over the sport and inspired other young women to take to the waves.
Beachley turned professional at a young age, and while she initially took some time to find her feet, she was ranked sixth in the world at 20.
In 1996 she stamped her potential with a number of impressive tour victories, then two years later, in 1998, she won the first of her world championships off the back of hard work, determination and grit.
Incredibly, it was the first of six consecutive titles (1998-2003). A seventh – and final – world title would follow in 2006.
Ella’s brief but spectacular career as one of the Wallabies’ greatest five-eighth playmakers stamped him as one of the code’s most significant figures. One of a trio of Indigenous brothers to represent their country.
In 1979 Ella competed for Australia for the first time on the Wallabies’ tour to Argentina before making his Test debut in 1980 in Sydney against New Zealand, kicking a field goal to help Australia to a 13-9 win.
He represented Australia in 25 tests between 1980 and 1984, becoming the captain in 1982 on a tour of New Zealand. In 1983 he captained Australia on a tour of Italy and France, and in home Tests against the USA, Argentina and New Zealand.
In his final Test season, the Grand Slam tour of Britain and Ireland, Ella scored a try in each of the four Test matches against England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – a feat never performed before by a touring player.
2023 SAHOF Awards
The Dawn Award
Who will take out the 2023 Dawn Award?
The Don Award
Who will take out the 2023 Don Award?